Welcome to the

Department of Evolutionary Ecology

at the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution



We congratulate Rebekka Janke et al. on their paper "Bacterial ectosymbionts in cuticular organs chemically protect a beetle during molting stages" in Springer Nature - ISME Journal

Here's the link to JGU's according Press release



Congrats to Eva Maria Griebeler on being corresponding author on a study in Science on the evolution of ichthyosaurs!
She modelled the marine food web of which a new giant ichthyosaur was a member in order to understand how they could grow so big so fast!
Check out: Sander, PM, Griebeler EM et al. (2021). Early giant reveals faster evolution of large body size in ichthyosaurs than in cetacean. Science 374, 1578. DOI: 10.1126/science.abf5787

You find the JGU's press release here.



We congratulate Nomthi on getting the BEE award for her excellent talk at the BEE 2020 conference!
"An award reserved for someone who has given a superb presentation and has fostered the BEE ethos of interdisciplinary thinking" - Well done, Nomthi!


"A beetle's Achilles heel: Glyphosate inhibits symbiotic bacteria in the saw-toothed grain beetle"
Kiefer, J. S. T. et al., Inhibition of a nutritional endosymbiont by glyphosate abolishes mutualistic benefit on cuticle synthesis in Oryzaephilus surinamensis, Communications Biology 4: 554, 11 May 2021, DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02057-6

Press release: https://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/13595_ENG_HTML.php

"The defensive symbiont of the European Beewolf shows incipient genome erosion and metabolic streamlining for antibiotic production."
Nechitaylo, T.  Y. et al. (2021). Incipient genome erosion and metabolic streamlining for antibiotic production in a defensive symbiont. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, doi: 10.1073/pnas.2023047118, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023047118

We congratulate Benni Weiss to his successfully completed training as
"Biomedical Scientist in Histology and Cytopathology" - great, Benni!

We're happy about the publication of "Bacterial symbionts support larval sap feeding and adult folivory in (semi-)aquatic reed beetles" in Nature Communications!

Press release: https://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/11586_ENG_HTML.php

Ana Carvalho joines our group as a new PhD student of the GenEvo graduate program working on gene regulation in the reed beetle symbiosis. Welcome Ana!

We celebrate Sebastian Hoffmann's outstanding denfense of his PhD thesis on "Satellitentelemetrische Studien an Rothirschen (Cervus elaphus) und retrospektive Betrachtung von Änderungen in der genetischen Konstitution freilebender Rothirsch-Populationen mit Hilfe alter DNA aus Geweihen".
Congratulations Dr. Hoffmann!

Jasmin Schleunes and Paula Becker from the Graf-Stauffenberg-Gymnasium in Flörsheim received first prize at the annual P&G Mint Award with their work on „Will plants ingest micro plastic?“ . We are happy we could support you with your project. Congratulations!

The dynamic gut microbiota of the Welwitschia bug Probergrotius angolensis might have allowed this Pyrrhocorid bug to switch host plants.
Original publication: Martinez, A. J.Onchuru, T. O.Ingham, C. S.Sandoval-Calderón, M.Kaltenpoth, M.Welwitschia Probergrotius angolensis Molecular Ecology10.1111/mec.15281

The review "Versatile and Dynamic Symbioses Between Insects and Burkholderia Bacteria" from L. V. Florez and M. Kaltenpoth was published in Annual Review of Entomology.

Aurelien Vigneron strengthens the SYMBeetle project as a further Postdoc. Welcome Aurelien!

Philipp Dirksen joins the lab as a postdoc in the SYMBeetle project. Welcome Philipp!

Thomas had the honor to be our first PhD student to defend his thesis in Mainz. He did so very successfully, setting high standards for all future candidates to come.Congratulations Dr. Onchuru!

Nomthandazo Kanyile from South Africa starts her PhD thesis in the SYMBeetle Project in our group - welcome Nomthi!

How young beewolves protect themselves and their stored provisions against spoilage by mold fungi – by releasing high concentrations of the radical gas nitric oxide – was published in eLife.  Press release of JGU: http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/8827_ENG_HTML.php

Orginal publication:
Strohm, E., Herzner, G., Ruther, J., Kaltenpoth, M.Engl, T. (2019) Nitric oxide radicals are emitted by wasp eggs to kill mold fungi. eLife, doi; 10.7554/eLife.43718





17. Mai 2019

GenEvo (Gene Regulation in Evolution: From Molecular to Extended Phenotypes ) is a DFG funded Research Training Group organised in a collaboration between the faculty of biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB). The initiative is centred around the core question of how complex and multi-layered gene regulatory systems have evolved.
Press release JGU: http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/8497_DEU_HTML.php
Information on the Project and Job opportunities at IMB - GenEvo

01. Mai 2019
Jürgen Wierz starts as the first newly recruited candidate his PhD thesis in the ERC-funded SYMBeetle project. Welcome, Jürgen!

PhD and postdoc positions available within the ERC-funded project SYMBeetle: ‘Symbiont-assisted cuticle biosynthesis as a key innovation contributing to the evolutionary success of beetles’   - job advertisement (Deadline 15. Februar 2019)

ERC Consolidator Grant for Martin Kaltenpoth for his research focusing on the relationship between beetles and symbiotic Bacteria - SYMBeetle project to investigate symbiont-assisted cuticle biosynthesis as a crucial mechanism that may have contributed to the evolutionary success of beetles

Press release: http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/7239_ENG_HTML.php

Happy start into the new year: the manuscript of E. M. Griebeler and N. Klein on the Topic "Life-history strategies indicate live-bearing in Nothosaurus (Sauropterygia)" was accepted in the Palaeontology Journal.

In another international collaboration published in BMC Microbiology we show that antibiotic and gamma-radiation treatment disturbs the endosymbiont community in tsetse flies which changes the composition of pheromones on their body surface and impacts mate choice.

Orginal publication: Engl, T., Michalkova, V., Weiss, B. L., Uzel, G. D., Takac, P., Miller, W. J., Abd-Alla, A. M. M., Aksoy, S., and Kaltenpoth, M. (2018) Effect of antibiotic treatment and gamma-irradiation on cuticular hydrocarbon profiles and mate choice in tsetse flies (Glossina m. morsitans). BMC Microbiology. doi: 10.1186/s12866-018-1292-7

Our collaborative manuscript on Wolbachia influencing pheromones and mating in the neotropical Drosophila paulistorum superspecies was published in Behavior Genetics.

Original publication: Schneider, D., Ehrman, L., Engl, T., Kaltenpoth, M., Hua-Van, A., Le Rouzic, A., Miller, W.J. (2018) Symbiont-driven male mating success in neotropical Drosophila paulistorum superspecies. Behavior Genetics. doi:10.1007/s10519-018-9937-8

The article on How beetle larvae thrive on carrion was released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.link to JGU press release: http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/6615_ENG_HTML.php

Original publcation: Shukla, S.P., Plata, C., Reichelt, M., Steiger, S., Heckel, D.G., Kaltenpoth, M., Vilcinskas, A. & Vogel, H. (2018) Microbiome-assisted carrion preservation aids larval development in a burying beetle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1812808115.

The summary article "Schon immer die gleiche Medizin" highlighting our recent findings on the usage of symbiont produced antibiotics by beewolves was published in Nachrichten aus der Chemie.

Original publication: Engl, T. 2018 schon immer die gleiche Medizin, Nachrichten aus der Chemie, DOI:10.1002/nadc.20184075552.

We're moving!
From August, 27th 2018 our new address will be BioZentrum I, Hanns-Dieter-Hüsch-Weg 15.

Marion Lemoine starts her PhD thesis in our group - welcome Marion!

Tobias Engl won the professor/postdoc photo contest of the 9th International Symbiosis Society congress with a visualization of the Bacteroidetes symbionts in a larva of the saw toothed grain beetle Oryzaephilus surinamensis.

Thomas’ article „The cotton stainer’s gut microbiota suppresses infection of a co-transmitted trypanosomatid parasite“ was published in Molecular Ecology.
Orginal publication: Onchuru, T., Martinez, A., Kaltenpoth, M. (2018) The cotton stainer’s gut microbiota suppresses infection of a co-transmitted trypanosomatid parasite, Molecular Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/mec.14788

The latest paper on the symbiont-mediated chemical defense of Lagria beetles came out in Nature Communications.
Link to the press release: http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/5705_ENG_HTML.php
Original publication: Flórez, L. V., Scherlach, L., Miller, I. J., Rodrigues, A., Kwan, J. C., Hertweck C. and Kaltenpoth, M. (2018). An antifungal polyketide associated to horizontally acquired genes in a symbiont contributes to egg defense in Lagria beetles. Nat. Commun. 9, 2478. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04955-6

Julian Kiefer starts his PhD with us on the molecular host-symbiont interactions in grain pest beetles. Welcome, Julian!

Interested in Transmission of mutualistic bacteria in social and gregarious insects? Then check out our latest review in Current Opinion in Insect Science.
Orginal publication: Onchuru, O.T., Martinez, A., Ingham, C.S., Kaltenpoth, M. (2018) Transmission of mutualistic bacteria in social and gregarious insects, Current Opinion in Insect Science, 28: 50-58.

Our review on the influence of microbes on pheromones of insects was published in Natural Product Reports.

Orginal publication: Engl, T., Kaltenpoth, M. (2018) Influence of microbial symbionts on insect pheromones, Natural Product Reports, DOI: 10.1039/c7np00068e

This year’s recipient of the Arnold Berliner Award is Dr. Jan Werner (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz), in recognition of his research article on the evolution of endothermy in amniotes published in The Science of Nature in 2017 (Werner and Griebeler 2017).

Link to Springer press release

We welcome Dr. Junbeom Lee as a new group member!

Science Trends presents a new hypothesis on the evolution of endothermy in vertebrates, recently published in the journal The Science of Nature.

Link to ST website

Original publication: Werner, J. & Griebeler, E. M. (2017). Was endothermy in amniotes induced by an early stop in growth during ontogeny? The Science of Nature 104: 90.


The article on the Evolutionarily stable symbiotic defense against mold fungi in beewolf wasps was released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Link to JGU's press release

Original publication: Engl, T., Kroiss, J., Kai, M., Nechitaylo, T., Svatoš, A., Kaltenpoth, M. (2018). Evolutionary stability of antibiotic protection in a defensive symbiosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, DOI 10.1073/pnas.1719797115

We welcome Dr. Eugen Bauer as a new member in our group - welcome Eugen!